Franchise comes of age

TY PILSON -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

The Calgary Roughnecks turn 100 tomorrow night.

The National Lacrosse League club played its first game Nov. 24, 2001 at the 'Dome and 98 games later, the team is ready to hit the century mark with its 100th contest.

The Riggers mark the milestone by hosting their provincial rivals -- the Edmonton Rush -- in a good, old fashioned Battle of Alberta.

To add more intrigue to the evening, the Riggers can clinch a playoff berth with a victory over the Rush.

As well, if the club draws a crowd of more than 12,056 it will top the 100,000 regular-season attendance mark for the first time.

To fete the occasion, here are some of the pivotal moments in Roughnecks history. Since our space is limited, these are all events that happened in the ol' days prior to the team's championship in 2004.

- March 28, 2001 -- The NLL officially announces the awarding of a franchise to Calgary. It becomes the league's 10th team.

- Oct. 2, 2001 -- The Roughnecks finally complete a trade for hometown boy Kaleb Toth, sending Sherwood Park's Blaine Manning and a first-round draft pick to the Toronto Rock. Toth, who has become the face of the franchise, has played every game for the team.

- Nov. 24, 2001 -- The Roughnecks play their first game and lose 32-17 to the Montreal Express. Calgary native John Kilbride scores the team's first goal 22 seconds in on the powerplay. Kaleb Toth assisted on the historic marker. Bruce Codd, now with the Arizona Sting, scores the first goal against.

- Dec. 2, 2001 -- The Riggers win their first game, pummeling the Ottawa Rebel 27-11 in the nation's capital. The 27 goals is still a Calgary record. On Dec. 14, Calgary got its first home win beating Columbus 20-13.

- Feb. 9, 2002 -- Calgary loses what seems like a nothing game to the Ottawa Rebel, falling 20-15. The Riggers and Rebel both finish the season a league-worst 4-12, however the Rebel had a better divisional record after beating the Riggers in that Feb. 9 game. Based on that, Calgary wins the proverbial lottery and gets the first pick in the Montreal Express dispersal draft and selects current captain Tracey Kelusky. The team also picked up defender Brad MacArthur and traded with Columbus to get goalie Curtis Palidwor, who the Landsharks selected from the Express.

- Feb. 23, 2002 -- Former Riggers heavyweight Matt Green drops the mitts with Toronto's Dan (Big Dog) Ladouceur and one-punches him on national TV, sending the big defender crashing to the carpet at the Air Canada Centre. It's still one of the most talked about fights in NLL history.

- Jan. 31 & Feb. 2, 2003 -- Even with Tracey Kelusky and a revamped lineup, the Roughnecks were still considered a second-tier team. The club came into its own during a pivotal weekend when they swept a home-and-home series against the Vancouver Ravens, winning 13-12 at the 'Dome and following it up with a 14-11 victory at GM Place to serve notice they were for real. Calgary scored seven unanswered goals in the fourth quarter of the win in Lotus Land. They went on to make the playoffs.

- April 2, 2004 -- After more than two seasons of futility, the Roughnecks finally beat the Toronto Rock. And they did it at home, to boot, in the second biggest win in franchise history. Rob Kirkby scored on a partial breakaway, scoring with 2:52 left in the second overtime.

- May 7, 2004 -- In front of a crowd of 19,409 at the 'Dome, Calgary wins its first and only NLL championship with a 14-11 victory over Buffalo. Nine different players score for Calgary and Curtis Palidwor is named MVP.

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ROUGHNECKS ROLL CALL

Of the 34 players who suited up for the Riggers their first year (2001-02), only 12 are playing in the league this season:

F Kaleb Toth, Calgary; T Jesse Phillips, Calgary; F Kyle Goundrey, Calgary F Shawn Cable, Calgary; G Derek Collins, Chicago; G Matt King, Portland; F Jason Wulder, Edmonton; F Ben Prepchuk, Colorado; T Darren Hillier, Edmonton; T Adam Bysouth, Portland; D Bruce Alexander, Portland; F Chris Panos, Chicago.


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